Now that the weather is warm you probably have your agenda loaded with parties and other plans. Being outdoors partying on Independence Day is something many people do. With it comes marching bands, live music, parades and, of course, fireworks. There is no cause to remain in your house and miss out on the good times, but take a moment to think of how you might protect your ears when you do go out to celebrate this holiday season.
Noise-induced hearing loss has an effect on about 6 percent of the U.S. adult population under the age of 70; that equates to around 40 million people. The sad part is this form of hearing damage is just about 100 percent avoidable. It just takes a little foresight and common sense. Give consideration to some reasons you need to protect your hearing as you have fun this summer and how to do it.
Basically Fireworks are the Worst
At the top of the list of potential dangers associated with fireworks, hearing damage is at the top. Despite that, you rarely hear experts warning people about this threat like they do with fire or burns.
Boys Town National Research Hospital states you’re at risk of hearing loss from fireworks regardless if you’re shooting them off yourself or watching them at a public show. After all, any sound over 85 decibels is capable of causing noise-related damage with extensive exposure. 150 to 175 decibels is the typical range of fireworks. The World Health Association estimates that adults could withstand up to 140 decibels of sound for a short time, but children will surely have damage at just 120. Both those numbers are lower than fireworks.
The positive spin? The potential for hearing damage is exponentially lowered the further you are from the explosion. People watching, for example, from their porch, would be less at risk than someone in the stands where the fireworks show is happening. If you are an adult it is recommended that you stand at least 30 yards away. Babies should not be there and children should be at least 70 yards away.
Because You Love Live Music
Who doesn’t? And of course some of the best musicians in the world come out to perform in the summer. The World Health Association states that a billion teens are at risk for hearing loss from music whether it is coming from ear-buds, a parade or a favorite band playing on stage.
Hearing loss is a constant factor when it comes to repeated exposure to loud music. Live shows are usually louder than 100 decibels which becomes dangerous after only 15 minutes. It’s safe to say; most people attend concerts for longer than that!
And Lets not Forget About the Crowds
At celebrations, crowd noise is usually the most underestimated hearing danger. When the crowd is into the celebration everybody is talking and yelling loudly. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that crowd noise at sports games ranges between 80 to 90 decibels. Unfortunately, it will most likely be louder and more consistent at a parade or celebration.
A Small Amount of Common Sense Goes a Long Way
What can you do to protect your ears? Even though you may not know it, its actually common sense. Start by assessing your hearing risk at the event:
- Will there be loud music?
- Large crowds?
If you expect that the celebration is going to be loud you can make the smart choice. If there is loud music or crowds, plan on wearing ear protection. With something simple like foam earplugs, you can still hear what’s going on, but at a much safer level.
You will want to keep your family back at a safe distance at a fireworks show. Fireworks can easily be enjoyed from a safe distance. Watch from a couple of blocks away, at least, to be safe. It can also be more enjoyable to be a little further back where the crowds are less.
The Sumer Season has Other Risks Besides Hearing Damage
Noise is only one of several concerns. Celebrations bring with them hot sun, too much drink, too little water and fatigue. If you have tinnitus or suffer from hearing loss these things will make them worse.
Try to take it easy. Don’t go to the celebration too early if it’s going to be a late night. Always drink plenty of water and try to moderate your alcohol consumption. Finally, figure out where you can go to take the occasional break from the heat. Is there a shady spot around? Is there an air-conditioned building nearby?
Celebrations come every year, but you only get one pair of ears. Enjoy the holiday but be sure to take care of your ears also. If you are worried that you may have already suffered hearing damage it is important to make an appointment with a hearing care specialist.